Posted by: erinjoneil | March 21, 2011

Your Organization on the Go

In today’s world of Blackberries and iPhones, social media doesn’t stop at the computer. In order for your nonprofit organization to stay fully engaged in social media you must adapt your message to fit mobile mediums as well.

Many mobile applications have been designed with nonprofits in mind to help them succeed.

CommonDeeds is a mobile app that believes in the power of collective action. By downloading the iPhone application, users can connect with others in their area who share the same philanthropic passion, build a team and compete against other teams as they support their favorite event, cause, political movement, nonprofit organization, community group or company. Nonprofit organizations can build and manage a team, using them as volunteers for service to their organization.

Nonprofits must always be creative and brainstorm unique ways to use social media outlets to fit in with their social media plan.

Fourquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices that allows users to “check-in” at locations using GPS, gaining points and earning badges as they compete against their friends to become “mayor of a location”.

Five Simple (and Fun) Ways to Promote NonProfits on FourSquare

(via nonprofitorrgs.wordpress.com)

1. Add Nonprofit Venues

Make sure your office and any activity sites have check-in locations on Twitter. Use the full name and include the address and phone number. This way, whenever anyone is at one of your locations they can “check-in” and spread the word to their followers.

2. Add Nonprofit Tips

Tips are added by users to inform others of their experiences at that site. Add tips about the services your organization provides for the community and how the public can access them.

3. Add Nonprofit To Dos

Create a list of places you would like to check-in that correlate to your organization. Perhaps organizations similar to yours or other community resources and points of interest. As you check things off your list you’ll earn badges for everyone to see.

4. Check-In at Nonprofit Events

An event is the best opportunity to get lots of people involved with your social media plan at once. Create a check-in location for a special event your hosting and promote checking in throughout the night. Create incentives such as free prizes or opportunities for those who check-in and something extra special for the user who becomes “mayor”.

5. “Shout Out” About Nonprofits and Socially Responsible Businesses that Support Nonprofits

To keep your followers in the loop about other places in your community that they should check out, “shout-out” about them.

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Posted by: erinjoneil | March 19, 2011

Nonprofits That Are Doing it Right

The best way to learn is by example. These nonprofits are utilizing social media to its full potential and have the results to prove it. From fundraising to connecting the community to their cause, these nonprofits are valuable examples of what your organization can become with strategy, understanding and dedication to social media.

Livestrong

In 2004, Lance Armstrong’s organization Livestrong made a name for itself with yellow plastic bracelets. Today, they have taken the same philosophy to create a name for themselves on the Internet.

twitter.com/livestrong

facebook.com/livestrong

livestrongblog.org

youtube.com/livestrong

The Livestrong Organization believes “social media never sleeps” and so, in 2009, Brooke McMillian became the nonprofit organization’s online evangelist, working seven days a week, often updating the Livestrong Twitter and Facebook from her Blackberry on the weekends. And the dedication has paid off. In the same year that Livestrong became dedicated to their online presence they had a monumental fundraising year, bringing in $10.8 million for cancer awareness and research. Their strong Twitter presence allowed Livestrong to reach thousands of potential donors in a short amount of time. They used Facebook to tell stories of cancer survivors and those suffering from the loss of friends and loved ones. In this open, welcome environment they felt comfortable sharing and thereby connecting to Livestrong and the organization’s cause.

The 1010 Project

Kenya feels a lot closer with the power of Twitter.

twitter.com/the1010project

the1010project.org

The 1010 Project is a nonprofit organization that provides income-generating grants to indigenous development partners in Kenya and raises awareness in the United States on behalf of the global poor. Kenya is a long way away from your computer screen but the 1010 project works to minimize that distance. They use the organization’s main twitter page as well as personal staff Twitter pages to engage followers on issues of global poverty by publicizing advocacy events as well as interesting facts and moving stories. (via Mashable)

Humane Society

The Humane Society utilizes Twitter in a way to create personal connections with its nationwide community of animal-lovers and philanthropists.

twitter.com/humanesociety

If these puppies can tweet, so can you.

You may think that a nationwide organization as large as The Humane Society wouldn’t have time to reply to any of their 45,000 followers or retweet smaller charities, but the Humane Society is one of the best nonprofit organizations at connecting with their followers via their Twitter page. They follow over 26,000 Twitter users showing that they take the time to follow their followers back, creating an even more personal connection. Twitter makes the Humane Society’s mission and organization as friendly as the puppies in their canine shelters.

 

 

 

“Why does everyone need to know what I’m doing all the time?” “How can you get your point across in just 140 characters?” “I don’t have time for another social networking website.” #ifIhadanickle… (that’s called a hashtag and we’ll learn about it in a minute)

The nature of Twitter is much more personal and creates connections you can’t find on other social media websites. Twitter makes potential donors and volunteers and newbies to your mission feel closer to your organization. Watch this short video to understand how Twitter works.

 

As you’ve learned, the first step to creating a meaningful presence on Twitter is finding followers who share your same interests. You can do this by searching for the Twitter pages of other organizations with missions similar to yours and following their followers. Don’t worry about being too aggressive by following people who have no connection to your organization (soon they will!). Twitter is not as private as Facebook. Hopefully, in turn, those people will follow you and their followers will follow suit.

However, it’s not enough to simply gain followers. Engaging with your followers on a personal level is what makes Twitter unique and will help your organization connect with your community. Use replies (@) and retweets (RT). When one of your followers replies to something you have said, reply back with a thanks or continue the question. If you see someone you follow make a point you agree with, retweet it and share it with all of your followers. Twitter is about community and sharing ideas and information.

Hashtags (#) are used to compile all tweets on the same topic in one place that can be accessed by clicking on the hashtag symbol. Use this function to engage all of your users in a live chat at once. Are you rallying community members to support a legislative act in your organization’s favor or are you looking for feedback on your organization’s programs and services? The Twitter hashtag engages followers in a discussion that you should monitor and contribute to.

Enabling outside resources, you can use Twitter to do anything from getting signatures for a petition to integrating your organization with a nationwide effort of the same mission. Check out these resources:

Act.ly: allows Twitter users to sign a petition simply by tweeting about it.

CommonDeeds: a free iPhone app that connects people in the same area interested in the same cause and puts them in competition against other teams to fundraise and volunteer.

50 Nonprofit Influencers You Should Be Following on Twitter: a no brainer

Posted by: erinjoneil | March 2, 2011

“Facebook Me”

In 2004 in a dorm room on Harvard’s campus, Mark Zuckerberg created a social networking website for students of the Ivy Leauge university. Seven years later Facebook has more than 600 million active users worldwide. It has become a necessary social media outlet for almost every American from teenagers to adults and is not evolving into a valuable tool for nonprofit organizations looking to reach those populations. Follow these steps to create a Facebook page worthy of a “like”.

1. Create a fan page, not a profile.

If you have a personal Facebook account you have a Facebook profile. These are reserved for individuals for personal use. Facebook fan pages are designed for organizations and companies looking to expand their reach to their community. These pages look and behave much like profiles but with significant differences that you can use to your advantage. These pages have no privacy settings so a simple Google search of your organization returns your entire Facebook page with the ability to “like” to become a fan of the organization, automatically seeing updates in the user’s News Feed on the homepage. These pages can be customized in a way that personal profiles cannot, catering the needs of your social media plan.

2. Create a custom landing tab.

Your Facebook fan page will have tabs across the top of the page with different functions. In your account settings you can create a custom landing tab. Make sure that the custom landing tab is eye-catching and timely. If you have an upcoming event you’re promoting or recent published news about your organization, feature that here. Update the landing tab often to keep fans coming back often.

3. Get rid of what you don’t need.

Less is more. Eliminate the tabs with functions that you don’t need to utilize. Leaving them up empty only makes fans feel deprived.

4. Create a theme.

What’s your thing? By asking people to become “fans” of your organization you are asking them to support your organization. So, what are they supporting? What is the single most important thing about your organization? Is it your mission statement or the numbers of people you have served? What do you want your fans to do? Become aware of the issues your organization tackles? Make your point clear on your Facebook page and keep it consistent.

5. Create dialogue.

It may be tempting to post statuses, videos and links on your fan page and leave it for the public to discover and read but Facebook allows for interaction between you and the community that you should take advantage of. Use the discussion board feature to spark conversation between fellow fans and reply to posts to create connections with fans.

Posted by: erinjoneil | February 25, 2011

It all starts with a plan.

“Alright, I have a twitter.com account, now what?”

You may have used Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other social media outlets for personal use in the past and are thinking, “this can’t be too hard, I’ll just start posting status updates and videos and tweets. No problem!” Problem. Using social media for your nonprofit organization is much different than using social media for personal use. When using social media for nonprofit organizations you need a plan of attack, a goal to attain.

The first question you must ask your organization, among directors and major supporters is, “what is our goal?” What do you want to achieve by involving your organization with social media? Fundraising? Event promotion? Volunteer recruitment? Awareness of issues and services? All of the above? Most mainstream social media outlets can be used for all of these functions but you must utilize the resource in a strategic way to achieve the results your organization desires. It might be wise to start with just a couple outlets at first to get a feel for their different functions and capabilities before extending your reach to take over the whole world wide web.

Your plan should be short-term and long-term. How will you make a good impression, attracting followers, friends and avid readers early on and how will you maintain that relationship as time goes on? What content will you produce right away and what content will you save for a rainy day? How will you engage your online community? Through discussion boards and retweets? Create a plan that has concrete ideas, creating consistency throughout the website’s lifespan but also allowing for new additions and improvements.

Justin Bieber has 8,298,360 Twitter followers. How many will you have?

Now, how will you measure the results of your efforts? Facebook likes and Twitter followers? Amount of money raised through online campaigns? One of Justin Bieber’s highly coveted retweets? If you don’t have a plan for tracking your progress, you’ll never know whether or not your social media efforts are working. I suggest using a free service like Google Analytics to uniformly track your progress across all social media outlets. Google Analytics will provide you with detailed statistics about the visitors to any website, including what search engine terms they use to get there, what links they click on while they’re there and how long they linger. By using Google Analytics you will be able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your social media campaign. The beauty of social media is that nothing is static and can be improved upon at any time.

Social media will give to your organization what you put into it. The more effort you make to control your image online, the better your image will be.  Although free of cost, involving your organization in social media is an investment in the future of your organization and it all starts with a plan.

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